Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lines?

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Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lines?

Postby Yellowspoon » Mon Aug 24, 2015 3:57 pm

I was watching an episode of Banacek (c. 1974) which showed Banacek crossing the Longfellow Bridge with a two-car red line train in the background. Prior to 1980(?), they always ran two-car trains during off hours. Although 80% of my riding is on the green line, I can't recall the last time I saw a two or four car train on the other lines. I would think the savings would be substantial as opposed to the labor of breaking a train into parts.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:29 pm

It almost never happens in revenue service. There are very rare sightings of four-car sets in revenue service, but my best guess is it was after having to set out a pair at the end of the line due to some sort of mechanical issue. I've heard of it happening maybe twice.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby caduceus » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:35 pm

IIRC, the reason they broke up the trains and ran two and four-car sets was due to the rules regarding door operators...it required more employees to run a six-car set, so during non-peak times they broke the trains up to save on payroll. When the rules changed they stopped the practice.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:41 pm

caduceus wrote:IIRC, the reason they broke up the trains and ran two and four-car sets was due to the rules regarding door operators...it required more employees to run a six-car set, so during non-peak times they broke the trains up to save on payroll. When the rules changed they stopped the practice.


The second operator was only recently eliminated. Much later than they stopped breaking down sets into smaller ones.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Yellowspoon » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:32 pm

caduceus wrote:IIRC, the reason they broke up the trains and ran two and four-car sets was due to the rules regarding door operators...it required more employees to run a six-car set, so during non-peak times they broke the trains up to save on payroll. When the rules changed they stopped the practice.
O P here ... I remember 2 car trains before 6 car trains even existed. The ran them off evenings and Sundays. It seems like such a waste of money to run six car trains. Why not run 2 car trains more frequently?
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Gerry6309 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:53 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:
caduceus wrote:IIRC, the reason they broke up the trains and ran two and four-car sets was due to the rules regarding door operators...it required more employees to run a six-car set, so during non-peak times they broke the trains up to save on payroll. When the rules changed they stopped the practice.


The second operator was only recently eliminated. Much later than they stopped breaking down sets into smaller ones.

The end of six-car four-man trains in about 1962, during the McLernon era. Four-car three-man trains persisted until the guard law was repealed. When six car trains were introduced on the Orange Line they had three man crews and were cut to four off-peak. This was also true when the Red Line got its first six-car trains ca. 1988. The second guards were eliminated and full time six-car operation was introduced in the 1990s.

One-man operation began on the Blue Line with four-car trains, and continued when six-car trains were introduced with the No. 5 cars. It spread slowly to the Orange Line and finally the Red Line. The four-car train became extinct with the retirement of the last No. 4 Blue Line cars in 2009.

BTW Two dead cars are allowed in a six car train, one in a four-car train but none in a two car set.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:36 am

Yellowspoon wrote:
caduceus wrote:IIRC, the reason they broke up the trains and ran two and four-car sets was due to the rules regarding door operators...it required more employees to run a six-car set, so during non-peak times they broke the trains up to save on payroll. When the rules changed they stopped the practice.
O P here ... I remember 2 car trains before 6 car trains even existed. The ran them off evenings and Sundays. It seems like such a waste of money to run six car trains. Why not run 2 car trains more frequently?


Because it is a waste of money to keep splitting and recombining sets in the yard. The economics no longer favor it in the OPTO era where on-train staffing is flat whether it's a 2-, 4-, or 6-car train. So they don't have any justifiable reason to surge yard staff ahead of a shift change to change the train lengths. That ends up outweighing the cost of running under-capacity.

Also, running 6-car sets under-capacity isn't that big a cost bloater on wear-and-tear or operating costs. The HVAC in particular doesn't need to work anywhere near as hard to maintain the temperature on a half-empty train. Propulsion's pushing several tons less human weight per car on a half-empty train vs. a full train. Doors aren't cycling nearly as much. And the MU connections last longer the longer trainsets are kept intact instead of being split up.*

(*This was one of the reasons why they Orange and Red went to permanent 6 cars before one-man ops...glitch prevention on those very worn-out MU connections)



Basically, there used to long ago be a cost/benefit ratio that favored different lengths by different shifts. And now the cost/benefit ratio favors static lengths and keeping hands-off on changing them. Green and commuter rail, of course, still living in their own different worlds in terms of what their train length efficiencies are...but this is what the 3 heavy rail lines have coalesced to. I guess there can be nitpicks about whether that strategy is truly absolutely the best to employ, but at the end of the day it's a very small-potatoes difference and they have ample justification for being consistent about their practices.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:57 pm

I believe the same reason that you won't see smaller subway train consists during off-peak hours is the same reason you see smaller consists on the Commuter Rail. It costs too much money to break down the trains and put them back together.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby BandA » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:22 pm

They should have specified quick couple/decouple features when they ordered Orange and Red cars from the Chinese menu. I'm talking push-buttons from the driver's console, and electrically coupled brakes w/automated brake tests.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:46 pm

BandA wrote:They should have specified quick couple/decouple features when they ordered Orange and Red cars from the Chinese menu. I'm talking push-buttons from the driver's console, and electrically coupled brakes w/automated brake tests.


Doesn't matter. It's extra labor shunting things around the yard and requiring extra inspectors to be around while they're lopping off, then shunt around the stuff that got lopped off so it's not blocking a yard track. All while causing extra wear to the MU connectors. And it makes no difference to on-train staffing which is exactly the same in a deuce or a six-pack.

Somebody did the math on this, and the fewest touches to trainset configuration came out most cost-effective. There has to be a compelling counter-argument that the opposite is more cost-effective, and adding cost to the order for special decoupling features isn't a winning way of making a counterargument. It doesn't matter enough to customize for.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby BostonUrbEx » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:33 am

Making it sound way too complicated. Here's what ya' do: Saturday morning, the first operators come in for service. They're assigned their equipment and they break a four-car set off of a parked six-car set with the help/supervision of another employee (this employee would help each operator as they enter service), pull away, and off into service. Keep the sets broken up until Sunday night and while coming out of service, couple onto the other broken up sets to make a six-car set again.

You're telling me this is more costly than the wear-and-tear and mileage of running excess capacity?
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby octr202 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:28 am

Based on 15-odd years occasional weekend Red Line experience (on the Alewife end), another consideration is that frankly they can use the six-car trains for a good chunk of Saturdays, if not even some times on Sundays. Don't know what the south end looks like, but the north end of the RL is pretty busy seven days a week. And when it's not packed to the gills, it's nice for folks to enjoy some of their trips at less than sardine-can conditions.
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Gerry6309 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:41 am

BostonUrbEx wrote:Making it sound way too complicated. Here's what ya' do: Saturday morning, the first operators come in for service. They're assigned their equipment and they break a four-car set off of a parked six-car set with the help/supervision of another employee (this employee would help each operator as they enter service), pull away, and off into service. Keep the sets broken up until Sunday night and while coming out of service, couple onto the other broken up sets to make a six-car set again.

You're telling me this is more costly than the wear-and-tear and mileage of running excess capacity?

You have to consider:

Schedule time is lost making and breaking trains.

The uncoupling mechanism may not work, requiring a man to go between the cars while another compresses the set to allow the coupling to be manually released.

The four car set may have two dead cars - not allowed.

The train sitting at Alewife may be an 01800 while the one laying up may be a 015-01700.

Like cars may not work well together.

For all of the above reasons, and others, cars are kept in the same six car sets, and only coupled and uncoupled at the shops.

BTW: NYCT does not alter train lengths either, even from 1 AM to 5 AM. Most married sets are four or five cars long depending on their length and the line to which they are assigned the R-32 and R-42 cars are pairs, but are normally kept in 8 car trains. They are now used only on the C and J/Z
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby Arborwayfan » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:09 am

How much of the wear and tear on cars that requires repairs or shortens the life of the cars comes from running, vs. the wear and tear that comes from weather and time?

I'm basically convinced by the argument that splitting up trains would take too much time and cause some other kinds of wear. It does also take a certain amount of electricity to do all that switching, right?

CR often closes most of the cars on a train off peak. I know that's because of the number of conductor/assistant conductors they need for every so many cars, but could it also apply to this? Would it make any kind of sense for subway lines to run 6-car trains with one pair closed(no doors opening, therefore less wear and tear on doors, seats, less hot or cold air let in for the AC/heat to deal with)? Enough sense to deal with irritating passengers at the stations where those cars ended up near the platform entrance?
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Re: Do they ever run short trains on the blue/orange/red lin

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:49 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:How much of the wear and tear on cars that requires repairs or shortens the life of the cars comes from running, vs. the wear and tear that comes from weather and time?

I'm basically convinced by the argument that splitting up trains would take too much time and cause some other kinds of wear. It does also take a certain amount of electricity to do all that switching, right?

CR often closes most of the cars on a train off peak. I know that's because of the number of conductor/assistant conductors they need for every so many cars, but could it also apply to this? Would it make any kind of sense for subway lines to run 6-car trains with one pair closed(no doors opening, therefore less wear and tear on doors, seats, less hot or cold air let in for the AC/heat to deal with)? Enough sense to deal with irritating passengers at the stations where those cars ended up near the platform entrance?


CR's a different animal. They have to move oversize trainsets into place on the late shift to fill up the outer layovers for the next morning's commute, and coming off a peak shift BET et al. are too much of an overstuffed zoo to be able to handle all the space-intensive movements required to make/break a push-pull set. Leaves little in the way of physical opportunities to change lengths. And that would probably be the same case with self-propelled units if they used the same yards. So uniformly short sets end up being something you only see on weekends...where sets broken up Friday night can run unchanged for 2 full days until Sunday night when the Mon. morning commute sets have to get moved into place.

Also, with CR it's all about the HEP load in terms of wear-and-tear, and not propulsion or moving parts. A closed-off car puts out hardly any electrical load because HVAC is either off or barely needing to come on to maintain temperature in the closed car, lights are off, automatic doors are shut off, nothing is plugged into a wall outlet, and so on. Because the heating and air conditioning works harder with more passenger density and passenger movement it's entirely possible to end up with a higher HEP load on a 4-car train of flats vs. a 6-car train of bi-levels with the exact same passenger count if spreading the passengers out more diffusely means fewer doors are constantly opening and shutting to let outside air in. And likewise time-of-day makes a difference because at 7:00am everyone's got their gadgets plugged into the wall on the way to work...but the same overstuffed trainset pulling the same number of passengers for, say, a playoff game at the Garden would barely make use of any of the wall outlets and put less load on the HEP.

And for propulsion the empties way many tons less in human weight coming out of a dead stop and are essentially inert when the train is at cruising speed. An HSP-46 barely has to work above idle on those last revenue runs of the night when it's moving a six-pack with 4 closed-off cars out to the outer layovers for next morning. When aging stuff craps out, it's the HEP loads of those rush hour sardine cans that exploit the weaknesses.
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